Why is There So Much Step-Mom Porn?

No, Freud wasn’t right.

Look, I won’t get up on my high horse and act like I’ve never seen porn. I was a teenage boy once, but even as a semi-functional adult I have to admit that sometimes the curious monkey has to peel his banana.

But the porn industry, and Pornhub specifically, has come under especially furious fire after a scathing, in-depth New York Times piece criticized the platform for allowing user-uploaded videos of underage girls and other criminal offenses.

Following the article, Pornhub removed all user-uploaded content except that which is uploaded via members through their content-creator program and features that user in the video and enacted stricter restrictions on the content they allow on their platform. This is a clear step in the right direction, ensuring that sexual content provided on the site is not only legal, but relatively ethical as well in an industry that, for lack of a better word, has been categorically sketchy.

But the removal of user-uploaded videos has also shifted the focus of Pornhub’s content into a more professional, or pro-mateur, realm and highlighted another large, red flag:

What’s up with all the incest porn?

Pornhub’s front page, censored for obvious reasons

Like its non-porn counterpart, YouTube, Pornhub algorithmically tailors its front page based on users’ viewing history, but I opened this tab in an incognito window, meaning that there was no viewing history to fall back on (not that there would be anyway). In a random selection of eight videos, three of them involved the premise of faux-incest. According to Pornhub’s own statistics from 2019, “step mom” was the seventh most-searched term of the year.

In 2013, Jon Millward looked at the careers of 10,000 porn stars and discovered that the sixth most popular role for porn actresses is “daughter,” and the tenth is “sister.”

It’s taboo, and we like the danger of taboos

In an interview with Esquire, actress Whitney Wright, said “as types of pornography that were less common in the past — for example violence, this or that fetish — become more and more common and easily accessible, consumers get bored by them and need the extremity and deviance upped a notch to once again become aroused and excited.”

“Few sexual acts are more extreme or deviant than incest,” she continued. But most states have laws forbidding incest — pretty much all of them except New Jersey and Rhode Island — so video producers have to walk a careful line when making content, often providing disclaimers that the actors involved aren’t actually related or providing some clarity like having an actor say, “But you’re my step-sister!”

“Depending on what the dynamic is,” says pornographer Jacky St. James, “if the scenario is set up correctly, say it’s a stepfather then it’s also the taboo of going after your mom’s man. Then it’s not just a boyfriend, it’s a father figure, so there are all of these taboos on top of other taboos.”

Taboo deviancy aside… do people actually want this type of content? Or is the porn industry just keen on making it?

We know it’s not really incest

A scientific study found that somewhere along the course of human evolutionary history, we developed a natural aversion to sexual feelings towards family.

It’s not that everyone watching porn suddenly decided that they wanted to sleep with their step mom or sister, but according to Alex Hawkins, the vice president of xHamster, it’s just a phase. Porn trends come and go, from girl next door to MILF to step-family, and we’re just caught in the middle of a taboo trend that the porn industry won’t stop making because, well, it’s getting them rich.

Other people suggest popular shows might be the cause. Shows like Game of Thrones, American Horror Story, and Sons of Anarchy all featured… intimate family relationships, and they were also some of the most popular television shows of the 2010s. Popular media often influences more than how we spend our evenings.

Seeing Jaime and Cersei Lannister going at it on-screen might have invoked a few curious searches online afterwards, and with Game of Thrones’ popularity, porn makers were rushing to quickly fill that hole — no pun intended. Maybe we’re seeing so much incest porn simply because there’s so much incest porn. They’ve already made it, so they obviously want you to watch it. At the end of the day, it’s still porn.

And just like we know the actors in our favorite TV shows aren’t really related, our minds can make the same separation when we’re watching porn. We know these people are just actors. We don’t get the same visceral, disgusted response as when we hear about, for example, a real sexual relationship between a father and daughter.

Ultimately, there’s nothing to worry about. We’re not suddenly going to see a rise in in-breeding, even among the British monarchy (though with the controversy surrounding them at the moment, maybe I shouldn’t speak too soon). If your dad remarries, keep your damn eyes off his wife. And her daughter. I’m talking to you, Ryan Phillippe. I still remember Cruel Intentions.

The important thing to remember with porn — legally made porn, that is — is that it’s a fantasy. Nothing happening on screen is an accurate portrayal of reality. If you’re delivering pizza, collect payment and go home. If you’re here to fix the sink, please just fix the damn sink because it’s driving me insane. And if you see Brandi Love at beer fest (yes, she was actually at a beer fest I attended), pretend like you don’t know who she is.

Writer, musician, rock climber, and human trying his best. Get in touch: www.austinharveywrites.com

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